by Jonathan Mack
It sounds odd to call Taro my student since he was eighty-seven when he died and already over eighty when he started attending my English class. He was old enough to have been a soldier in World War Two—a very young, near-sighted, and perhaps slightly eccentric one.
I can report that although Taro’s English was slow and halting, he didn’t make many mistakes and he could say what he wanted to say. He did not, however, participate in discussions. While the other students related their ailments, holidays and grandchildren, Taro sat still as a statue, without seeming to move even his eyes, so becalmed you could be excused for thinking that he’d maybe gone a little soft in the head.
Each week, when the discussion had slowed a little, or when I saw that class would soon be over, I’d turn to Taro and ask, “So, Taro, any news?”
If it sounds like I wasn’t a very good English teacher, that’s the truth. I was lazy. I was too tired and too busy, like everyone else in the city of Tokyo. On the plus side, I was not very important in the lives of my students. A focused and energetic English lesson would only have gotten in the way. I was just an excuse. I was an excuse and I knew it. Just as the English language was an excuse.
Read: "Just Interesting"